To hell with Restructuring! Restructuring my foot! I have held my self back severally from the urge to respond to this vituperation coming from one of the key figures waiting to be possibly crowned to occupy one of the highest offices in the land come elections 2023. In a nutshell he believes that what is important is to achieve overall improvement in the quality of life of the average Nigerian and therefore thinks Restructuring should be jettisoned as unacceptable distraction.
But we beg to disagree and we are of the firm conviction that this is a teaching moment; a teaching opportunity which we must not allow to go begging. We believe that as we do this at least some of those with the same mindset might be converted to see things in a better context and perspectives. But first of all we wish to seize this opportunity to advise those who play in the public space to imbibe some refinement and be mindful of their language. It is better to deploy refined language as they communicate. It is not polished to speak with a language brimming with the devil may care demonstration of crass impunity. Please let us mind our language!
There is no gain saying the fact that development is important for any economy to thrive for the attainment of an overall improved quality of life of a generality of the population. This improvement in quality of life could be dimension into available employment opportunities for majority of the citizens to be fruitful engaged in some occupation which not only guarantees that they live but is also important for their self esteem which is important for their proper identification within the society. It is also important for their emotional and psychological stability. It also impacts the social order positively as we recall the popular saying that the unemployed is in the devil’s workshop.
This economic development must also be pursued in the context of macroeconomic stability so important for the overall quality of life. A situation were inflationary pressures are prevalent, were prices are unstable and on the upward trajectory adds to the misery index in the land. An environment where essentials of life are unaffordable and the provision of essential services are mostly unstable, unpredictable or unaffordable is not conducive for the desired quality of life of a generality of the population.
An environment where security to life and property are not guaranteed and a generality of the population live in fear is deprived of one of the essential attributes of a well managed economy and detracts from the desired quality of life of the citizens. Therefore in summary to say the obvious development is the sine qua non of good governance so essentially for the overall harmony and peace in the economy. To that extent we agree that development is important. But our argument here is that this desired development is better achieved in a sustainable manner within the context of a restructured polity.
But logically the next level of interrogation is to ask why has development eluded Nigerians? A view that is shared by most informed compatriots is that Nigerians have been shortchanged due to failure in leadership which in itself is traceable to poor leadership selection process. We parade a leadership selection process that is heavily monetized with scant attention if at all paid to merit within an environment where accountability is discounted.
And because the selection process is driven by the depth of one’s pocket, corruption is rife and the order of the day. In such environment emphasis is on what share of the cake one gets even if this cake is disappearing. Therefore if we must diffuse the time bomb waiting to explode before our faces, there is an urgent need to refocus the country to concentrate on production which is really what is woefully lacking in our environment.
This is where restructuring is the magic wand to restore competition amongst the component regions of the country as was the case immediately post independence. Restructuring as I understand it will at the minimum reduce the concentration of powers at the Centre. This explains why those who believe they have an upper hand in the existing arrangement like the aspirant in question consider Restructuring as anathema! The blind fear of losing perceived privileges.
We need to bring back competition into our lives if we must ever have a glimpse of the promised land. We need to revisit resource control. Regions should keep the income that accrues directly to them and only pay taxes to the paired down Centre only there to provide common services of defence with the coordination of external relations. To that extent Restructuring would make the Regions to a large extent autonomous as should be the case in a situation of a properly run Federation and not the Unitary system of government we practice today.
Once we achieve this arrangement it goes without saying that all the institutions of government would be automatically decentralized including the police force. With this sort of arrangement the pursuit of balkanisation becomes obviously unnecessary and harmonious existence would prevail so essential for development. As the competitive spirit is restored consequent growth and development would seamlessly follow and the potentials of Nigeria bottled up for so long would be unleashed and realized. And there will be shared prosperity by all as there is no Region in Nigeria lacking in endowment waiting to be tapped.
Therefore it is patently wrong headed to see and fear Restructuring from the narrow prism of a loss of extant privileges and advantages. In fact most have argued with conviction that Restructuring is so essential that it should be prioritized ahead Elections 2023. Shalom.
Boniface Chizea is an economic consultant.